Joe Cunningham is a conservative commentator, Front Page Editor at RedState.com, contributor to The Hayride, and a teacher in south Louisiana. You can find him on Twitter at @JoePCunningham and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jcunninghamwrites.
And so it begins. Technically, it started with Rick Perry and his money problems, but now seeing Scott Walker bow out of the presidential race it’s becoming real – there are consequences to what do you, what you say, and how much money you rake in (obvious exception is Donald Trump: see below).
Rick Perry was getting very little money. Sadly, most people could not see how much better he was this cycle because they were still hearing “Oops” from 2012. Scott Walker now has faced some money troubles, but his campaign suffered from a free fall in the polls he could not recover from. Having met Walker in person, and hearing him tell his story, is so awesome that you can’t help but imagine a Walker presidency. However, Walker suffered from a campaign team out of Washington that actively hates the Republican base, and so his natural message of limited government and curbing union power over the labor force was drowned out amid flip-flopping campaign issues and confusingly introduced policy points.
Walker donors – the big donors – are now taking their money either to Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush. Rubio has seen some big donors come his way, Bush not so much. Ted Cruz is still well-funded with small dollar donations and the reputation of being an outsider amongst a bunch of insiders.
Cruz and Rubio are playing it smart. A mix of message and passion for each has suited them very well. The other candidates (Trump again excluded) have not been able to muster up that same kind of energy among their supporters. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that Bobby Jindal is the only governor left in the race that could make the same play and get support, and my guess would be that he’s playing the long game by keeping costs low and putting his message out there in any way he can. His social media game has been, as the kids say, on point lately.
But, ultimately, no matter how Jindal does, it is far more likely (at this point) that the final candidates on the Republican side will be Rubio and Cruz. I’m a little more partial to Rubio, but either would be an interesting way for the Republican Party to go. And, if I were to guess, the Republicans in Washington D.C. would be far more likely to support Rubio than Cruz as they would see him as someone easier to work with.
This leaves one very big question unanswered, however: What in God’s name are we going to do with Trump? Well, his polling is already going down, and I think his supporters will jump ship eventually as he flounders. They’ll go to Fiorina and Carson and, when those two bow out, they’ll move to Cruz. If it plays out like this, I imagine 2016 is going to be a very, very fun year for the political junkies within us.